Category Archives: Linda Cole

New Study Says Cats are Only Semi-Domesticated

By Linda Cole

Dogs have been by our side for at least 30,000 years and are completely domesticated. Cats, on the other hand, didn’t join the human family until 9,000 years ago. You may not think of your adorable kitty as a wild animal, but according to new research that tracked the genome of cats, our feline friends are only semi-domesticated.

Dogs, cats, and other carnivores share a lineage with a 55 million year old ancestor called Dormaalocyon latouri, a tiny two pound tree dweller believed to have dined on smaller mammals and insects. Scientists think it looked like a cross between a squirrel and a very small panther, with a cat-like snout and prominent tail. One of the earliest ancestors of mammals found, it lived in humid forests. Evolution is a complicated and surprising process.

Our house cats have only been living with humans for a relatively short period of time, and little is known about their domestication. Unlike dogs that live in a social structure, cats are solitary creatures. The most likely reason cats began to interact with humans was because the felines hunted rodents in food supplies which were in close proximity to people, and humans rewarded docile cats that stayed close by with food. However, cats have never fully given up their solitary nature.

Read More »

EmailGoogle GmailBlogger PostTwitterFacebookGoogle+PinterestShare

How Closely Related are Dogs and Wolves?

By Linda Cole

Scientists have believed for many years that dogs evolved from wolves, and most likely became domesticated when humans settled down and turned to agriculture. However, a study in early 2014 contradicts this belief with evidence that points to a common ancestor of dogs and wolves, and a domestication process that took place earlier than once thought.

The one thing scientists know for certain is that new evidence continues to be uncovered about when, where, how and why dogs became man’s best friend. Fossilized dog skulls and bones help peel back the hands of time to give researchers more insight into the domestication of dogs.

In the field of biology, evolution is a generation-to-generation change in the gene pool through natural selection, mutation, migration or genetic drift – which is random change in a population’s gene pool based on chance and usually occurs only in small isolated populations. The consensus was that dogs started to evolve from the gray wolf around 10,000 years ago. New research has found dogs and wolves split off from a now extinct common ancestor somewhere between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago. What caused the ancestor to die off is a mystery.

Read More »

Can Dogs and Cats be Allergic to Penicillin?

By Linda Cole

In 1928, a Scottish bacteriologist named Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin while tidying up his lab. He was about to toss a moldy petri dish into the trash when he noticed something strange about the bacteria – it wasn’t growing as well as it should have been. However, it would be another twelve years before penicillin would become a lifesaving drug; two Oxford scientists – Howard Florey and Ernst Chain – produced a brown powder capable of retaining the antibacterial properties in 1940.

The new drug was rushed into mass production and sent to the war front during the early years of WWII. Today, penicillin is used to treat anything from minor wounds to tonsillitis and pneumonia. Unfortunately, some people are allergic to penicillin. Is it possible for dogs and cats to have an allergic reaction too?

Penicillin works by inhibiting bacteria from building a sustainable cell wall. Fleming noticed that mold on the petri dish was attacking bacteria surrounding it to get more space and nutrients it needed to grow, by releasing a bacteria killing compound that prevented some bacteria from forming new cell walls. This process is called antibiosis, which is where the word antibiotic comes from. Once Fleming isolated and identified the antibacterial compound, he named it penicillin. The discovery of penicillin was hailed as the first miracle drug, and has saved countless number of human and animal lives over the years.

Read More »

How To Teach Your Dog Not To Grab Treats

By Linda Cole

Working with your dog to teach him how you want him to behave is a fun and exciting part of dog ownership. It helps to build a tighter bond while you spend quality time with your pet. However, some dogs are grabbers and the fun ends when you offer him a treat as a reward. For most dogs a treat is the best motivator, but you don’t want to have to count your fingers each time you offer a treat. It is possible – and not that difficult – to teach your furry friend to be gentle and not grab treats.

There are various reasons why a dog will grab treats or toys from your hand, and it’s important to figure out if the behavior is due to fear, frustration, anxiety or aggression. Anytime a dog that is usually good about not grabbing treats suddenly begins to snatch a treat from your hand, it’s a sign something could be bothering him. You may need to figure out what’s causing him to be anxious or fearful. Any sudden change in a dog’s behavior indicates you may need to talk to your vet or get help from a professional trainer or animal behaviorist. Some dogs may grab the treats because they’re afraid that another dog, or even the cat, will take it first. A dog that’s overly excited is also more apt to snatch a treat.

As with all training, you need to stay calm, be patient and use positive reinforcement. It’s important to be consistent and keep reinforcing a “gentle” command each time you give a treat. Understanding who your dog is as an individual is also a plus. Don’t give your dog a treat if he’s pawing at your hand, mouthing or trying to snatch it.

Read More »

Do Pets Really Like to Wear Clothes?

By Linda Cole

People have a variety of reasons why they dress their pet up in clothes. Some put a coat or sweater on their dog in the winter because he gets too cold without one. Others just think their pet looks cute in a costume. Some pets seem to enjoy all the attention they get when wearing clothes; there’s even a National Dress Up Your Pet Day. But from your pet’s point of view, is he really that excited about wearing clothes? There are things to consider when choosing clothing for dogs and cats, and signals your pet sends that will tell you if he’s comfortable or stressed out in his new getup. Dressing your pet in clothes can change his behavior.

I have a windproof/waterproof coat for each of my dogs to wear during heavy, wet snowfalls and when the temperature is below zero. Winter winds can be wicked where I live, and my dogs appreciate their coats. All except Keikei, my Border Collie mix. She is more of a hat and sunglasses kind of gal, and doesn’t like wearing a coat no matter how cold or snowy it is outside. Keikei is a high energy canine and can’t wait to get outside, but with her coat on she has trouble moving around and prefers to act like a statue. Her personality changes, and I know she feels uncomfortable and confined wearing a coat, so I don’t put it on her.

Read More »

Two New Dog Breeds Join Westminster Lineup

By Linda Cole

Once a dog breed has met the criteria and been officially recognized by the American Kennel Club, they are eligible to compete in the king of dog shows, Westminster. The 2015 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will debut two new breeds, one known as the royal dog of Madagascar, and a hunting breed from Hungary; this will increase the breeds shown at Westminster to 180.

Coton de Tulear

Pronounced coe-TAWN day two-LEE are, this rare breed originated on the island of Madagascar. The fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar lies off the southeastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean where sailors, traders, slave traders and pirates were frequent visitors. The breed’s name means “cotton of Tulear” which comes from their long cotton-like coat and the port city of Tulear where the dog began.

The Coton de Tulear is a member of the Bichon family of dogs, and early ancestors of the breed traveled with Spanish explorers in the 1400s and 1500s, working as ship ratters and providing companionship for sailors. The coastal city of Tulear was an important trading port and a favorite stopping place for pirates who found shelter and provisions in the city.

Read More »